I’ll often begin reviews with a gripe or metaphor that juxtaposes the game I’ve played with a relatable feeling but with Tacoma I just can’t see myself doing that.
Fullbright, the studio formed in 2012 by ex Bioshock dev Steve Gaynor, has crafted a brilliant follow-up to 2013’s Gone Home by transporting players into a world of intrigue, love and seedy corporate ambitions.
Where Gone Home’s story revolved around a single individual, Tacoma tracks the thoughts and actions of the six Tacoma station members as they face near certain doom from a dwindling Oxygen supply.
Tacoma tells its story predominantly through its environment. Relics from past inhabitants are scattered around living quarters and in between sections of the station. Their placement, coupled with recordings you find on your journey, make an abandoned and desolate station feel warm and alive again.
Stellar voice acting makes the colorful but undetailed AR scans of the crew and the station’s AI ODIN appear exuberant in moments of happiness and ravaged during times of chaos.
Each character has a background that is deeply explored during the 3 hour campaign. Each crew member’s work history and reasoning for being on Tacoma become apparent as you walk through the station, discovering past AI recordings of varying duration and time period.
The events of Tacoma aren’t presented in chronological order which may seem jarring to some, but just as in Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk, once you start to put the pieces together, a larger reasoning for the jumbled arrangement of events becomes clear.
Tacoma handles its surface material brilliantly, but its deeper themes get somewhat lost in a story with no true climax. The twist of Tacoma was surprising, but not to a degree where I was shaken to my core or had to contemplate life for two hours after finishing the game. This isn’t to say that Tacoma’s story isn’t anything short of great, but it’s hard-hitting themes just didn’t seem to have the same punch as I was expecting.
What Tacoma does perfectly is present a cast that I truly cared for and felt connected to in such a short time. The dilemmas they confront when faced with life or death choices are highlighted by an examination of the human condition. Tacoma may be set in the future, but it makes the player ponder timeless questions. Would you face certain death with graceful acceptance, fight to survive no matter how slim the odds seem or hope for a miracle in the darkness?
Tacoma may not stand to have the same impact as Gone Home, but it represents another stellar showing from Fullbright and positions itself as a must play game in 2017.